What does the top number of our BP mean? How about the bottom number?
A person's BP is usually expressed in terms of the systolic pressure and diastolic pressure (mmHg), for example 120/80. In this example, 120 is the systolic pressure and the lower number is diastolic. [ For each heartbeat, BP varies between systolic and diastolic pressures. Systolic pressure is peak pressure in the arteries, which occurs near the end of the cardiac cycle when the ventricles are contracting. Diastolic pressure is minimum pressure in the arteries, which occurs near the beginning of the cardiac cycle when the ventricles are filled with blood. Systolic and diastolic arterial BPs are not static but undergo natural variations from one heartbeat to another and throughout the day (in a circadian rhythm). They also change in response to stress, nutritional factors, drugs, disease, exercise, and momentarily from standing up. Sometimes the variations are large. ] Expert answered|ramkitten|Points 2429|User:
Can you expand on how doctors check patients for hypertension? For how long, when, and how should you have your BP checked? What are the numbers to look for?
Doctor's generally use a stethoscope and a sphygmomanometer. This comprises an inflatable cuff placed around the upper arm at roughly the same vertical height as the heart, attached to a mercury or aneroid manometer. [ The mercury manometer, considered the gold standard, measures the height of a column of mercury, giving an absolute result without need for calibration and, consequently, not subject to the errors and drift of calibration which affect other methods. The use of mercury manometers is often required in clinical trials and for the clinical measurement of hypertension in high-risk patients, such as pregnant women. An example of normal measured values for a resting, healthy adult human is 120 mmHg systolic and 80 mmHg diastolic (or 120/80). For those who don't have a history of high blood pressure, BP can usually be checked just once a year during a physical exam. Those who do suffer from hypertension should check their BP much more frequently, like once per week. When measuring BP, an accurate reading requires that one not drink coffee, smoke cigarettes, or engage in strenuous exercise for 30 minutes before taking the reading. A full bladder may have a small effect on BP readings; if the urge to urinate exists, one should do so before the reading. For 5 minutes before the reading, one should sit upright in a chair with one's feet flat on the floor and with limbs uncrossed. The BP cuff should always be against bare skin, as readings taken over a shirt sleeve are less accurate. During the reading, the arm that is used should be relaxed and kept at heart level, for example by resting it on a table. Since BP varies throughout the day, measurements intended to monitor changes over longer time frames should be taken at the same time of day to ensure that the readings are comparable. ] Expert answered|ramkitten|Points 2429|
All Categories|No Subcategories|Expert answered|Rating 1| 9/19/2010 6:41:51 PM